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In the five years since the UN Human Rights Council adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, human rights scrutiny of information and communications technology (ICT) companies has escalated significantly. More governments than ever are pressuring companies to censor content, network shutdowns have become disturbingly routine in many countries, and Edward Snowden’s revelations have undermined the credibility of Western governments and companies associated with the “internet freedom agenda”. Just as significantly, companies’ own commercial interests and business models have major human rights implications.
In this context, what are the key issues, implementation gaps, and best practices for technology companies? In a paper entitled Business and digital rights: Taking stock of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in the ICT sector, author David Sullivan, a consultant working at the intersection of technology and human rights, analyses the implementation of the Guiding Principles in the ICT sector, focusing on three pillars:
• The state responsibility to protect human rights
• The corporate responsibility to respect rights
• The need for access to effective remedy when rights have been violated.
With its transformative potential to help advance human rights, the ICT sector should be driving global discussion about how best to achieve respect for human rights in the private sector. By taking stock of progress made thus far and implementation gaps, Sullivan’s paper concludes with recommendations intended to provide a roadmap to move ICT sector risks and opportunities to the centre of the business and human rights debate.
Read the full report here .